My goal for attempting a clone of Celebration ale was to nail down a recipe that I could use whenever I felt I wanted to dink Celebration out of season. I also liked the challenge of making it because it’s one of my favorite beers. To construct the grain bill and hop bill I went to Sierra Nevada’s website to gather information. Their site list the starting gravity as 16oP (1.065) and final gravity as 4oP (1.016) and 65 IBUs. The hops are Chinook and Centennial for bittering, and Cascade and Centennial for flavor and aroma. The grain is pale two-row and caramel malt and the yeast is obviously Chico. There is no mention of SRM, but there are plenty of pictures and I’ve drank enough (I’m a professional at that part) to have a reasonable idea of what I’m looking for in the end. Somewhere around 18-22 SRM would be my guess.
To create my clone I entered everything into my calculator, playing with the additions and amounts until I ended up with the target bitterness, gravity and color. I was afraid I was using too much Caramel malt, but it is the only malt listed that would provide color. When it came to brew day I forgot to pick up Chinook hops so I just substituted with extra Centennial hops for my desired bitterness. If you recall from my original post it was kind of a screwed up brew day with everything else going on, but I ended up hitting my gravity target, just not my volume target.
Appearance: Mildly hazy, just chill haze as it goes away when the beer warms up, deep ruby-mahogany red, with an off-white head, good retention that clings to the side of the glass. It might be a touch dark.
Aroma: Slightly grassy, pine, grapefruit, and some caramel sweetness. The aroma is spot on from what I remember from Celebration ale, if not perhaps a touch sweet.
Flavor: This is where things get a little off. Rich bready caramel malt with a hint of pine like bitterness, but nowhere near enough to balance the sweetness. Looking back at it now I can see that I used way too much Crystal malt. In fact I don’t really know why I added Carapils.
Mouthfeel: Malty and chewy with a sweet finish and lingering malt flavor. The hops are all but covered up by the sweetness.
Overall: I know where I went wrong; it’s obviously the excess Caramel malt. To be honest, I’m not sure why I didn’t notice how much I was adding. I will definitely brew this beer again but I’m going to decrease the Caramel malt, or perhaps go with a lighter color and remove the Carapils. I’m going to assume all the Crystal malt is the reason for the slight under attenuation, which doesn’t do anything to help the sweetness. It’s not that it’s a bad beer; it’s just not Celebration ale. I can taste aspects of it in between the sweetness, but for someone who doesn’t like sweet things it’s over whelming. I’m slightly biased when it comes to that. When I brought it to a HBC meeting, everyone loved it for its maltiness. This is just an excuse to try again; rarely do I ever feel I nailed a beer on the first attempt.